I made the mistake of telling people I was pregnant 30 seconds after it happened. Then ensued what seemed an interminable wait for my baby to be born prompting regular inquiries, “Haven’t you had that baby yet?” Of course, the baby ended up being two weeks late, time I spent with my head down shuffling out of sight. “You’ve been carrying that baby forever!”
Because my next three children came on airplanes, a stork with very big engines flying to the U.S. from Nicaragua, I never had the opportunity to put what I’d learned into practice. Don’t tell people about a big event ten years in advance. Spring it on them when the end is in sight. That way, they can get excited about it instead of really tired of hearing about it.
If I’d been smarter, I would have taken what I learned almost forty years ago (dear baby daughter now a mom and major smartypants) and applied it to this crazy ass Avon Walk for Breast Cancer that I’m doing in Santa Barbara this weekend. I say crazy ass because it’s 26 miles on day one followed by 13 on the second day. Now, I’m no stranger to long distance charity walks – I’ve done two three-day 60 mile walks but it was before Facebook and my growing tendency to immediately blurt all news. I don’t let anything age too long before hoisting it on the Facebook flag unless, of course, the topic is financial failure, child disaster, or other unpleasant mishap. Let’s say the Avon walk has figured prominently in my Facebook postings for months. The point of the walk is to raise money for the cause and I’m happy to say I’ve exceeded by goal and Facebook has been an enormous advantage. But I know my FB friends have really had it with yammering about this walk. “Haven’t you gone on that walk yet?” “Uh no, it’s coming up this weekend.”
So now I’m working on getting my head in the right place. If I can keep my head straight and control the little wimpy ass crybaby that lives behind my left ear, I’ll be fine. So in the spirit of controlling my head, I went searching in my house for inspiration. First up, I put on the Diana Nyad wristband that says “ONWARD Cuba to Florida.” Yes, I know she didn’t make it. But if anybody knows how to control wimpy ass crybabies, it’s DN.
Then I rifled through my old jewelry box and I found one of my mother’s bracelets – silver and turquoise – knowing my mother, probably neither of them genuine. And I’ve decided to wear it today and for the walk this weekend. I’m taking Mom on a walk. I say “Hey, Mom, let’s go for a 26-mile walk together.” And I’m going to show her the sights of Santa Barbara.
The last walk we had was around her neighborhood. She was talking very little by then because of her Alzheimer’s Disease but we did stop to greet a man planting flowers. I say greet but it was really concentrated ‘standing there’ while he and I waited for my mother to say whatever it was she so clearly wanted to say. “The day is happy now,” she said. Yes, yes it is.
On the Avon walk, the snivelling sissy in my head is going to wear me out with her complaints. There will be times that I will feel so sorry for myself (having flown across the country to walk in a beautiful city, good grief) that I will want to sit down on the curb and call a cab. I’ve joked with a friend that I’m going to duck into the corner bar, score a brew and walk out the back door to rejoin the walkers. But now that I know I’m going to take my mom for a walk, I can’t let her down or my friends or the other people on the walk, many of whom are breast cancer survivors, some just recently diagnosed. In the Komen walks I did, I walked next to women who had lost their hair to chemotherapy. So this is an incredible opportunity for inspiration and for solidarity with other women. I am so lucky to be able to do this. And I think my mom ought to be there with me.
So she can remind me – The day is happy now.